My First Submission to the Al-Nur Newsletter (a bi-weekly Islamic Publication at my University)
Being a Healthy Muslim
April 24, 2008
Your throat starts to feel sore, your coughing, and you get a few chills. The last place you want to be is sitting in a lecture hall when you could be in bed at home. When you are sick what is the first thing that comes into your mind? A doctor? or Allah (swt)? How do we, as Muslims, approach our health and taking care of ourselves? How are we different from non-Muslims?
On April 3rd, Dr.Khawaja, a private practitioner from the local area, came in to talk to the Sisters about Islam and Healing. She made some very good points on the differences between being a Muslim and Non-Muslim when it comes to practicing medicine and keeping ourselves healthy.
First, if we want to be healthy we need to understand that in maintaining our health we need to aspire to be whole. We need to incorporate the idea of ‘tawheed’ or oneness within ourselves. There are three levels to our being: the body, the mind, and the spirit. In order to achieve a sense of wholeness or ‘tawheed’ these three levels must be in harmony. As Muslims, the best possible way to reach harmony is by practicing Islam. Islam is like a medicine. The message that the Prophets told their people was healing at all levels. As individuals who have been blessed with guidance from Allah (swt) it is also mandatory for us to keep ourselves clean and to be in a state of purity when praying. This actually prevents a lot of diseases or illnesses. It’s satisfying to know that we are already on the path to being as healthy as we possibly can be by just practicing Islam and being Muslim.
When you get sick, do you complain? Complaining usually gets us nowhere. Instead of complaining, contemplate. At the sister’s halaqah, Dr. Khawaja shed some light on the ‘simplicity of contemplating’. And when I thought about it in depth and realized its importance I was amazed. Islam is all about thinking and reflecting. When it comes to our health we should also incorporate this same concept. Contemplate upon the reasons why you may have an illness. Allah (swt) is all-knowing; he may have challenged a person with sickness to correct something about them, it may be to remove sins, or just be a test, etc. We can only guess. Contemplating and reflecting is personal and inshallah it will draw one to figure out the cause and the truth. Thus they can be better prepared to address the illness and start to take action to heal in the most effective way.
Second, to be healthy we need to be fully aware of what we are eating. As Muslims we have a very high level of awareness. Islam sets the principles for what is good for us and what is not. Striving to eat foods that are pure actually helps to protect us from a number of illnesses and diseases. One thing that we need to refrain from eating a lot of is fast food. Everyone knows that it is not healthy. I mean 99 cent fries are hardly worth it. There’s a saying that “haste is waste”. So be careful about always eating on the go. I know fast food is sometimes hard to avoid; so start small and make gradual changes to your diet. Also, how many people today actually have breakfast in the morning? Enjoying a healthy breakfast is good for us; it’s just that simple. I’m sure you are aware that ‘breakfast’ also means ‘break’- ‘fast’. After sleeping for several hours we need to fuel our bodies with a healthy breakfast so that we are ready to take on the day. And many studies have been done that shows having a nutritious breakfast in the morning leads to doing well in school.
Finally, a very important concept to understand is that our body is very intelligent; every cell in our body knows their creator, Allah (swt). Allah (swt) is the one who created us (and any sickness that we may be challenged with), therefore he knows best what we need to cure an illness. He is all merciful and the best of providers. He didn’t make the means to cure oneself difficult. Therefore, we need to think twice before we take any sort of man-made medicines – whether they are over the counter or prescription based. Today’s medicine is all about symptom relief. Most people just take a pill to deal with any discomfort or pain. They don’t bother reflecting on the reasons why they may be sick. Taking medication to solve sickness doesn’t help us become healthy. We need to eat right and do many other things to make our bodies stronger. The compounds that are used to make the medication are not stable, therefore they don’t really help us to heal properly. What I mean is that Allah (swt) creates every particle in the world with the characteristic of stability. Therefore, by taking pills made of unstable compounds. What are we doing? We are hurting our health. Instead, one should resort to more traditional practices, full of wisdom, that have proven to be successful cures, if they are in search of healing. For example, what should one do if they have a fever. Drink lots of water, of course; it helps to cool down the body. Looking for alternatives to man-made medication is much better for our health. Allah (swt) created a lot of things in nature that can help us to heal and cure ourselves.
We may skip breakfast from time to time and have foods that are unhealthy, but we need to realize that as Muslims, we are obligated to take care of ourselves in the best possible way.